Local News

Four ConAgra patients remain critical at burn center

Posted June 10, 2009 12:51 p.m. EDT
Updated June 10, 2009 3:51 p.m. EDT

— Doctors at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals continued on Wednesday to treat patients injured in the ConAgra Foods plant explosion.

Four patients were listed as critical, two were fair and one was in good condition on Wednesday afternoon. Some of the patients suffered burns over 40 to 60 percent of their bodies, Dr. Bruce Cairns said.

Critical patients who have burns on 40 to 50 percent of their bodies can go into burn shock, Cairns said. These patients require a large amount of fluids and different medications to support blood pressure and other organ systems.

“It’s really a balance between the heart function, the lung function (and) the kidney function while you are in shock,” Cairns said.

Cairns spoke with each of the seven patients who came to the center after the explosion.

“They always want to make sure that we tell their loved ones that they love them,” Cairns said.

Cairns said the injuries of these burn patients vary across the body.

“It’s clear that folks were in different places and that the heat and the fire affected them in different ways,” Cairns said.

Patients in fair condition can be in a great deal of pain because their nerves are intact and can feel the pain, Cairns said.

Though a long road of recovery is ahead, Cairns said he’s seen people live through these types of critical burns before.

Hospital staff and volunteers are working with the families to make sure they also have the support they need.

It is possible the burn center could get more patients, but they are not expecting any more at this point.

Tuesday's explosion left three people dead and sent dozens to other area hospitals with injuries.